Rishi Sunak has to demonstrate he’s running Britain, NOT the unions, says Mark Dolan

Mark Dolan says Britain is staring down the barrel of a winter of discontent.
Mark Dolan says Britain is staring down the barrel of a winter of discontent.
Image: GB News
Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 17/12/2022

- 21:26

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:18

It's do or die for dishy Rishi...

It's do or die for dishy Rishi.

To be fair, being prime minister at the moment is a tougher gig, than David Walliams’ publicity manager.

But as Britain stares down the barrel of a winter of discontent, with industrial strife across multiple sectors, this chaos provides our talented new prime minister with an historic opportunity.

There's plenty of sympathy for the nurses, in terms of their claim for a better package. We've benefited from their love and labour in the past, and we will no doubt call upon their expertise and compassion in the future.

A society that can't reward those who look after us - at our weakest moment - isn't a society at all.

But, as with the RMT union decimating the hospitality sector by having strikes before AND after Christmas, the decision by the nurses unions, which many nurses themselves object to - to down tools amid the usual NHS winter pressures and with 7 million people waiting for treatment, is cruel timing and a strategic mistake.

Anyone who can't get seen in the next couple of weeks - and can't even get to hospital quickly, because the ambulance staff are on strike - won't forget what they've done.

In the end, I'm sure a sensible package is in the offing for the nurses. Number 10 will rightly judge that whilst 19% is wide of the mark, denying nurses something is not a political hill to die on. The rest of it IS.

Rishi Sunak must stand firm, with the RMT, the civil servants, and ALL the other sectors - who are working in such a coordinated way, it almost feels part of a wider plan to bring down this administration.

Of course, everyone could get a bumper pay rise, if we hadn't shut the country down for 2 1/2 years, and wilfully destroyed the economy, but we are where we are.

Inflation is in double digits, and people are struggling. But to seek to tackle inflation by giving people pay rises will only add to the problem – it’s like curtailing a flood by turning the taps on.

A wage spiral in what is an effective arms race with inflation, will just lead to years more of economic pain.

We could ultimately be Zimbabwe or Argentina, with people using briefcases of cash to pay for a loaf of bread. I might be exaggerating slightly, but you get my point.

The country is broke – running a deficit, and a 2 trillion national debt.

There is no more money, for these pay rises anyway. How do you think the international bond markets, and Rolex-wearing speculators, would take to us borrowing MORE billions, to keep the unions quiet?

Because they won't. Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile. And they will take the country down with them.

If Rishi Sunak gives into the unions everyone will want a piece of the cake. It will be a doom loop of rising wages, and rampant inflation. A race to the bottom.

If he stands firm, it's a virtuous circle. Wage restraint means that inflation will fall, which boosts the value of wages, and sees a drop in the cost of living. That sounds like a win-win to me.

A stable and lower-inflation economy is the ultimate prize for Rishi Sunak, in 2023; it's within his grasp.

But he's going to have to demonstrate political will, and a backbone.

Can he do it? You tell ME. But if he does, I believe, it will be his Falklands moment.

Tangible progress with the illegal migrant crisis, a better economic outlook, and Mick Lynch back in his BOX, offers Sunak the chance of another five years at number 10, when he can REALLY show what he's made of.

Sunak has to demonstrate HE’S running Britain, NOT the unions.

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